LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 11/20: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Rollins vs. Murphy, McIntyre vs. Reigns contract signing, Daniel Bryan returns, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
NOVEMBER 20, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE THUNDERDOME IN AMWAY CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

-The show opened with The Street Profits backstage in the “new” Champion’s Lounge. They said we’re two days away from Survivor Series, where they’ll bid farewell to The Undertaker. “Rest in Peace…” a booming voice said. Big E rose from behind a prop stand. and talked up New Day ahead of their match with the Street Profits at Survivor Series.

Montez Ford said the legacy of New Day is about to end, because all they do is “win, win, win.” Angelo Dawkins said they’d normally break bread with New Day any time, but not Sunday. Big E said Kofi and Xavier are actually on Smackdown tonight. He launched into his standard New Day introduction. New Day’s music hit.

-Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the Thunderdome over Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods’ entrance. Cole said they’re there because “Survivor Series is in two days.” Corey Graves said “several” other Superstars from Raw were invited to the show.

Xavier and Kofi grabbed microphones. “I know we don’t even go here anymore,” Xavier said, “but we were invited.” Kofi said they wanted to check into the Smackdown Hotel one more time. They called out the WWE on Fox Twitter account, saying they hate it. Woods said they want to say a few words about The Street Profits.

Kofi said the Profits are right to want the smoke, because they don’t want “this fire.” Xavier said if they did, they’d be deadman. This led them to talk about The Undertaker. They laid on the mat and sat up, completing their Undertaker “reenactment.”

Sami Zayn’s music cut them off. He said all anybody can talk about is The Undertaker. Zayn said the only reason Taker is calling this his “final farewell” is because he knows Sami owes him a little revenge. He said WWE management is letting The Undertaker take the coward’s way out to avoid facing him. Sami went on to say that the Intercontinental champion is better than the United States champion, and that Bobby Lashley will have no one to protect him on Sunday.

“I’m not here to hurt you,” Zayn said to Woods and Kingston. He asked them to “do the right thing” and talk about the hottest thing on Smackdown, the Intercontinental champion. Woods and Kingston struggled to come up with something nice to say. Woods called Zayn a “recently divorced dad who recently put a down payment in for a studio apartment.”

King Corbin’s music hit. Corbin admonished Zayn for allowing New Day to talk to him like that. He said New Day just had their Smackdown farewell a month ago. “You don’t belong on my show, it’s time for you to go.” Dolph Ziggler’s music hit. He and Robert Roode headed to the ring.

Ziggler said it was cute when New Day and the Street Profits traded titles, but it cost he and Roode a tag title match. Roode said if they’d faced New Day, they’d be tag champions. Kofi and Woods offered to defend their tag titles tonight. “But against who?” they launched into their schtick.

Kingston and Woods intimated that maybe Zayn and Corbin should team up. Both declined, but Sami said if he could, he’d definitely beat both Ziggler and Roode. Xavier Woods suggested the two teams have a match, with the winner facing them for the tag titles. After brief deliberation, Roode and Ziggler attacked New Day. Zayn and Corbin laughed.

The Street Profits hit the ring and helped New Day take out Roode, Ziggler, Corbin and Zayn. The show went to break in a hurry.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Eek. Look, I enjoy New Day. I enjoy the Street Profits. What they’ve been doing with both teams in recent weeks is abysmal. It’s not entertaining, it doesn’t mean anything, and it’s not turning into the big “torch passing” match that they’re trying to hype it as. Furthermore, it’s absolutely asinine that Raw wrestlers have just been invited to Smackdown because Survivor Series is Sunday. That’s their reasoning, Cole even said it. Stuff like this is precisely why this is my least favorite month on the WWE calendar. It’s lazy, it’s uninspired, and it does damage to the characters that are more or less self-contained and disinterested in the “brand” for the other eleven months of the year.)

(1) NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) & THE STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. SAMI ZAYN & KING CORBIN & DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE

As expected, an eight man tag team match was set up during the break. We joined it already in progress. Dolph Ziggler worked over Montez Ford. Ford flipped out of the corner, leapfrogged Ziggler and caught him with a big leaping dropkick. Angelo Dawkins tagged himself in and tackled Ziggler, then backdropped Ford onto him. Dawkins covered for a quick two count.

Ziggler recovered and dropped Dawkins with a dropkick before tagging in Robert Roode. Roode ate a dropkick from Dawkins. Dawkins tagged in Kofi Kingston. Kofi grabbed Roode’s arm, but Robert shot him off the ropes. Kingston caught Roode with a spinning back elbow after a pair of running leapfrogs. He stomped at Roode in the corner, then tagged in Xavier Woods.

Montez Ford tagged himself in. Kofi Kingston tagged him back out, then tagged in Woods. Woods dropped Roode and covered him for a two count. Roode managed to fight back and reach King Corbin for a tag. Corbin cornered Woods and fired away shots to the ribs and kidney. Woods fought free with a boot, but walked right into the Deep Six. Corbin covered for a near fall.

Corbin beat down Woods whole staring down the other babyfaces. Woods managed to roll up Corbin for a two count, then tagged in Montez Ford. Ford hit a big dropkick and leaping clothesline followed by a standing moonsault. Members from both teams flooded the ring. Kingston accidentally took out Ford with a cross body. Dawkins yelled at Kingston as the show went to break.

Ziggler had Ford grounded in a chinlock when the show returned from break. He beat Ford into the corner and then dropped him with a falling front slam, covering him for a two count. Corbin tagged in Ziggler. Ford caught Dolph with a big right hand, moving closer to his corner. Ziggler shoved him back toward the heels. Ford rolled through a back drop attempt and hit an enziguri. He crawled to his corner and tagged in Kofi. Ziggler reached Roode.

Kingston dropped Roode with a pair of clotheslines and then a dropkick. He connected with the Boom Drop and set up for Trouble in Paradise. Roode ducked it and set up for the Glorious DDT. Kofi fought free and tagged in Xavier Woods. Woods connected with the tornado DDT for a near fall. Angelo Dawkins tagged himself in.

Dawkins hit a spinning tackle into the corner. Roode wandered to his corner and tagged in Sami Zayn, against his will. Dawkins gave Zayn a spinebuster and tagged in Ford. Ford hit the frog splash for a three count.

WINNERS: The New Day & The Street Profits in 13:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: The match was fine. I get the idea here – build some tension between two babyface teams trying to one up each other going to into a match. The problem is, the heels put up a little too much of a fight to really drive home the point they were selling. And, not for nothing, but Sami Zayn is the absolute last guy that should’ve been taking the pin in that match. I get it – Bobby Lashley is likely to run through Zayn on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean you should sell your Intercontinental Champion as the weak link of every single match he’s in. It’s just bad booking.)

-Cole and Graves ran down the show and talked up the return of Daniel Bryan.

-Backstage, Daniel Bryan was shown talking (off mic) with Kayla Braxton and sporting a new haircut. Sami Zayn wandered on screen, complaining about the referee. He got in Bryan’s face. Bryan pulled his mask up over his face and slapped Sami. Sami said he’d deal with him if not for his match on Sunday. “As much as possible, I believe in social distancing,” Bryan told Kayla.

-Out of the break, Kayla Braxton welcomed Daniel Bryan to the interview set. “Great haircut,” she said. She threw to a video package recapping Bryan’s match with Jey Uso. Kayla asked Bryan if he’s concerned about coming back to face Jey again so quickly because of the depths he’s now willing to go.

Bryan said he understand why she’d think that. He said he saw Jey’s interview with Kayla where he said everything he did to him was “nothing personal.” Bryan said he understands, everyone has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on another. “Including me,” Bryan said. “Who do you think was the one reminding me when I couldn’t pick up my daughters and they’d cry every time they saw me?” Bryan concluded by saying it’s not him that needs to be concerned, it’s Jey Uso.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Great stuff. You can almost always count on Daniel Bryan for fiery, inspired promos to build up matches on notice. Bryan’s in-ring work never goes unnoticed, but I often think the sincerity and commitment on the microphone that he brings to nearly all situations is rather under-appreciated.) 

-Adam Pearce handed the final spot on Team Smackdown to Otis. Chad Gable congratulated him, saying they tapped into his “inner alpha.” He promised to get Otis ready. Natalya wandered on screen. She said clearly Pearce has the authority to hand-choose members of the Survivor Series teams.

Pearce agreed. He said he got to choose one member for each team, and for the Smackdown women’s group, he needed a proven leader and winner. Natalya assumed it to be her. He announced it was Bayley. He told Natalya that her match with Tamina for the final spot would be next. Natalya stormed off in ager.

-The show returned with Seth Rollins backstage, speaking directly to the camera. He said he saved Murphy and gave him a new life. “I am responsible for every good thing you have in that life.” He cited his burgeoning career, bright future, and beautiful girlfriend. Rollins said if it weren’t for the greater good, Murphy wouldn’t have even met Aaliyah.

“What do I get in return?” Rollins pondered, “stabbed in the back!” Seth said he won’t suffer for Murphy’s mistakes. “You will be the one to pay for them.” He promised to teach Murphy his final lesson, returning him to the status of “nothing, no one.”

-Natalya was already on her way to the ring for her Survivor Series qualifying match. Tamina was already in the ring. Cole welcomed Bianca Belair to the commentary table. Just as the bell was about to ring, Bayley came to the ring to join commentary.

(2) TAMINA vs. NATALYA – Survivor Series Qualifier

Natalya attacked Tamina quickly out of the gate. Tamina shoved her away and hit a super kick. Natalya rolled from the ring in retreat. Corey Graves welcomed Bayley to commentary.

Tamina tossed Natalya into the steps, then back in the ring. She covered for a two count. Bayley named herself captain of the team. Belair contested, saying she and the other members won their opportunities while Bayley had hers handed to her. In the ring, Natalya side stepped Tamina and sent her shoulder first into the ring post. She followed up with a big clothesline, then applied the Sharpshooter. Tamina tapped quickly.

WINNER: Natalya in 2:00

Bayley hit the ring to congratulate Natalya. They mocked Bianca Belair. Bayley welcomed Natalya to the team. Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott walked to the ring to join the rest of the team. Bayley directed traffic and stood front and center.

(LeClair’s Analysis: What was the point of all this? Natalya fails three times and then finally wins in a glorified squash match against another woman who already had an opportunity? I just don’t get the logic here, aside from wasteful time filler. Bayley is a welcomed addition to the team, and I love the idea of her being named to the team going directly to her head, instantly deeming herself as the captain. It seems clear a feud with Bianca Belair is next on her plate, and that, at least, makes a lot of sense.)

-Michael Cole and Corey Graves tossed to recap of the WWE Championship match between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton from Monday’s Raw.

-Drew McIntyre headed to the ring, carrying the WWE title at his side. Cole said he’s here to ink the contract for his match with Roman Reigns at Survivor Series. The show went to commercial.

Drew McIntyre sat patiently at the contract table when the show returned from break. Roman Reigns’ music hit. it took him a bit of time to emerge from the back. Graves said the champion does thinks on his time. Paul Heyman looked proudly at Reigns as he held up the Universal title. McIntyre scowled. “Despite how it may appear, the mind games have already begun,” Graves said.

Reigns stared confidently at McIntyre as the second hour of the show began. He took his time approaching the ring and climbing the steps. Reigns finally entered the ring and handed the title off to Paul Heyman. Adam Pearce offered Reigns his seat at the head of the table.

Roman leaned in toward Drew. Adam Pearce thanked Roman and Drew for joining him, and said his only job tonight is to obtain their signatures. Roman told Adam to sit down. Reigns spoke to Drew off mic. “I knew you could do it. Paul, not so much, but I knew,”

Reigns told McIntyre he’s gone through it himself. He said Drew is the right guy, at the right place at the wrong time. McIntyre said Roman is trying to get in his head and piss him off. “It’s not gonna happen, I’ve already got my match.” McIntyre said he’s going to get straight to the point. “You told me to go and get myself a title, I won the title.”

McIntyre said management told him to show up and sign the contract. “That’s exactly what I’m gonna do.” Drew signed it. He said it’s Roman’s turn, Roman’s show, and Roman’s move. He asked Roman to underestimate him. He told him to prepare for war. Reigns smiled arrogantly. Paul stepped in to give Roman a different pen.

Reigns went to sign, but thought better of it. He said he’s going to let Drew sit under the learning tree and have a lesson. He told Drew he’s not going to like what happens at Survivor Series, but one day he’ll understand. “You are a secondary title holder. You are a prop, you are a stand in.” He said McIntyre is the guy they call when “Roman is busy, or Roman doesn’t want to do it.”

Reigns said he’s the champion, he’s the tribal chief, and the head of the table. He said years from now, Drew McIntyre will have the opportunity to be “the man.” He said when that day comes, Drew will thank him. Roman told Drew that he’ll love him for the lessons he taught him. “I’m gonna love you right back,” Reigns said. “You’ll always be my favorite number two.” Roman signed the contract, stood up, and took the title from Paul. Drew stared at him, then rose slowly as he left.

Reigns sauntered up the ramp without looking back at Reigns He laughed as Drew’s music played.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I was curious to see how this Roman character would look and feel playing off of someone who isn’t part of his family. So much of the character thus far has been predicated on the familial element. I wasn’t worried, but tonight proved I had no reason to be. Reigns was fantastic. It’s a shame this match has to happen at Survivor Series, it feels like it could, and should be so much bigger. Both of these guys feel like stars. You have to wonder why they ever took the title off of Drew in the first place. Was this the plan all along, or, did they have this penciled in for later and since got bigger news? Time will tell.)

-Cole and Graves discussed their excitement for Reigns vs. McIntyre, then turned to the Rollins vs. Murphy feud. A video package aired covering last week’s match between Rollins and Rey Mysterio.

-Seth Rollins headed to the ring. Michael Cole said the events of last week have been eating away at Rollins all week. He said the match with Murphy is next.

-Murphy headed to the ring following the commercial break. The Mysterio family accompanied him to the ring.

Murphy rushed to the ring and was immediately thrown off the apron by Seth Rollins. The Mysterio family tried to intervene, but Murphy held them back and slid in the ring to begin the match.

(3) SETH ROLLINS vs. MURPHY (w/ Rey, Dominick, and Aaliyah Mysterio)

Murphy and Rollins traded a flurry of punches, but Seth Rollins quickly gained the upper hand. He tossed Murphy to the outside and into the barrier. Seth dragged Murphy back in the ring and tied him up in the ropes. He talked trash to the Mysterio family and jawed at Murphy.

Rollins retrieved a kendo stick from under the ring. Rey Mysterio grabbed it from him. Rollins punched Rey in the face and slammed him into the announcers desk. Dominick tried to intervene, but Seth tossed him into the barricade and stomped him. Murphy rushed to the outside and tossed Rollins into the ring. Murphy leapt onto the apron, and onto the ropes. Seth shoved him clear off the ring. Murphy’s body launched off the top rope and into the barricade below, a nasty looking bump. Rollins stalked Aaliyah, tanning her. The show went to commercial.

Rollins continued to punish Murphy in the ring when the show returned from break. He climbed to the second rope, but Murphy recovered enough to cut him off. Rollins fought through with a kick and then hit a sling blade for a two count. Seth tossed Murphy into the corner, mounted him, and fired off punches. After eating several shots, Murphy managed to duck through and kick Rollins in the face. He tossed Rollins to the outside and launched himself over the top rope onto Seth.

Murphy tossed Rollins back inside and caught him with an enziguri. He climbed to the top but Seth met him and hit a superplex. Rollins maintained his grip, rolled through and hit the Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Both men stood and battled onto the apron, trading right hands. Murphy hit Rollins with a pair of trigger knee strikes. Rollins rolled himself back in the ring. Murphy climbed onto the apron. Rollins managed to hit the Stomp through the middle rope. Seth covered, but Murphy got his foot on the bottom rope before the count of three.

“I have you everything!” Rollins screamed as he dragged Murphy to his feet. He gave him a buckle bomb. Murphy collapsed at Rollins’ feet. He set up for the Stomp, but Murphy rose from the dead to hit another trigger knee. He connected with Murphy’s Law and covered Rollins for a three count.

WINNER: Murphy in 11:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. I would’ve actually liked to have seen them go longer. While I’ve been quite harsh on this angle as a whole, I can rarely fault the in-ring work or Rollins or Murphy. They had a good one here. I feel like I say it every week, but again, I really hope this is officially it for this feud.)

-Murphy barely had time to celebrate with the Mysterio family before being cut off by Sasha Banks’ music abruptly. Cole said she’d be face to face with her Survivor Series opponent, Asuka, after the break.

-Asuka had joined Sasha Banks in the ring when the show returned from the break. Michael Cole stood in the ring between them. he introduced both Asuka and Sasha Banks and said he wanted to talk about the match. He said it’s champion vs. champion, and the end of a bitter rivalry. He said Sasha took the Raw Women’s title from Asuka over the summer.

“You’re damn right I did!” Sasha exclaimed. Asuka interrupted her. Cole brought up Asuka winning the title back in the rematch at SummerSlam. He asked Sasha if Asuka has her number. Banks said it’s Boss Time, all the time. She called Asuka one of the best in the world, but said she’s going to trap her in the Bank Statement and make her tap out.

Asuka laughed. “You can’t see me!” she said. Banks said she can see her, and, for once, understand her. She kicked off her heels, offering to fight right now. She called herself the star, the standard, and the blueprint in the women’s division. “You have to know the best of the best, and that’s me.”

“You are not ready for Asuka!” Asuka retorted. Banks said she was born ready. Carmella attacked Sasha Banks from behind. He kicked Banks in the head and set her up in a tree of woe in the corner. Carmella wrapped Banks’ hair around the bottom rope and pulled. Asuka stood by, disinterested. Carmella kicked Banks in the face. “I told you to watch your back,” Carmella said, emphatically. Asuka looked on.

(LeClair’s Analysis: It’s good that these two have history and tension, but I fail to see how this segment did either of them any favors. This was an opportunity for the newly turned babyface Sasha Banks to reconcile with Asuka for her actions over the summer while she was a dastardly heel, all while talking up friendly competition for superiority. Instead, Banks ignored that entirely and delivered her promo like an overly scripted, generic heel. Meanwhile, Asuka, also a babyface, stood by while fellow babyface Banks got beat down by the only heel in the segment, Carmella. Both of these women have been badly damaged over the last several months. This isn’t the time to make it worse for both of them, and this segment did just that.)

-Kayla Braxton approached Jey Uso backstage. She asked for his comments regarding Daniel Bryan’s interview earlier. She asked if Jey had permission to speak to her. Jey said he’s got the green light, and he’s also got permission to finish what he started with Daniel Bryan. He said he’s responsible for his own actions and decisions. “The only devil talking to me right now is the one that lives right here,” Jey said. He said the devil is telling him to “go get him.”

(LeClair’s Analysis: Great promo. Jey is quickly becoming one of the best talkers in the company. What a revelation the last several months have been.)

-Daniel Bryan headed to the ring, leading a virtual “yes” chant on his way to the ring.

Jey Uso walked to the ring slowly following the commercial break. Cole and Graves teased the men’s Survivor Series match.

(4) DANIEL BRYAN vs. JEY USO

Jey Uso attacked Daniel Bryan out of the blocks, peppering him with quick strikes and sending him off the ropes. Bryan turned it around with a quick kick, an aggressive leg lock, and a number of quick chops. He drove his knee into Jey’s face and pulled him to his feet.

Uso caught Bryan with an uppercut and dropped him with a big running back elbow. Jey removed his wrist tape and arm sleeve then dumped Bryan to the floor. He drove Bryan into the steel steps and tore apart the announcers desk. Bryan punched Jey and tossed him back inside the ring, breaking the referee’s count of seven. Bryan climbed to the top rope and launched into Jey with a missile dropkick.

Bryan cornered Jey Uso and delivered a pair of kicks, then a flurry of rib shots. Bryan kicked at Jey. Jey fought to his feet and punched Bryan in the jaw. Bryan staggered, then fired off one of his own. The two traded kicks. Bryan dumped Jey over the top rope, then hit a suicide dive through the middle rope. Jey’s head hit the corner of the announcers desk awkwardly.

Both men rose and traded punches near the desk. Jey backdropped Bryan through the table. The show went to a commercial break.

Jey Uso had Bryan down on his face in the center of the ring when the show returned. Jey rolled Bryan over, mounted him and threw several punches. He let Bryan drag himself to his knees, then gave him a big body slam. Jey tossed Bryan into the corner and gave him a big chop. He drove his head into Bryan’s midsection. Bryan wandered out of the corner and received a side backbreaker. “It was nothing personal,” Jey repeated as Bryan struggled to stand.

DB managed to catch a few punches and rally to the top rope. Jey cut him off with a kick, then hit a superplex. Jey covered him for a near fall. Both men struggled to their feet slowly. Jey went for a Samoan Drop, but Bryan rolled him into a crucifix pin for a near fall. Bryan transitioned into position for the Yes Lock, but Jey blocked Bryan from locking his hands.

Jey rolled Bryan over and drove his elbow into Bryan’s kidneys relentlessly. Jey climbed to the top rope, but Bryan cut his legs out. Bryan hit a back suplex off the top rope, then began to power up to his feet. Bryan started the Yes Kicks. He connected with the final kick to the head and scored a near fall.

Bryan hooked Jey’s arms and stomped at his chest, neck, and head. Bryan set up in the corner, then ran into a super kick. Jey lifted Bryan to his knees and gave him another kick. He climbed to the top rope and went for the splash, but Bryan got his knees up and cradled Uso for a three count.

WINNER: Daniel Bryan in 14:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match. Bryan was in definite need of a win here, and I like the way they framed this. Jey got caught with a roll up. It wasn’t decisive, but it was clean. Bryan gets a little bit of revenge, Jey keeps most of his momentum, and we get the added bonus of Jey letting down Roman, leading to a certain confrontation. This continues to be the most fascinating, well told story WWE has, especially when you consider how frequently they become careless and loose with long term angles.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Storylines aside, we got two really strong matches tonight in Uso vs. Bryan and Rollins vs. Murphy, as well as a great promo from Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre. It would be unfair to overlook these things, despite the overall trajectory of the show still feeling rather messy given the Survivor Series build. Tonight’s two women’s segments were low points, and the opening segment failed to capitalize on the mission it appeared to set for itself. I’m excited to get back to traditional, single brand feuds and rivalries and get through the awful fake brand supremacy war.

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